UPDATE: Charles Jay
During the 2016 Republican primary campaign Harlan Crow donated $100,000 to the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC. It seems that he’s looking for an alternative to Trump in 2024. He’s hosting a fundraiser for Nikki Haley.
Billionaire Texas real-estate mogul Harlan Crow has reluctantly emerged into the national spotlight after ProPublica revealed the largess he has bestowed on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Crow’s lawyers have rejected a request from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin to provide a list of Crow’s gifts to Thomas. ProPublica, however, revealed that these extravagant gifts included private jet trips, megayacht excursions, lavish vacations, a $19,000 Bible that once belonged to abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and several properties for Thomas, including the house where the justice’s mother still lives.
Crow and his wife, Kathy, have for decades been GOP megadonors, contributing millions of dollars to Republican candidates and campaign committees over the past three decades, according to OpenSecrets, the nonpartisan, independent group that tracks money in politics. But Federal Election Commission records reveal that the Crows have also donated several hundred thousand dollars to a select group of congressional Democrats during this same period, OpenSecrets reported.
These Democrats are known for blocking their party’s more progressive initiatives, including President Joe Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better economic agenda in 2021-2022. They include Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who last December switched her affiliation to independent, as well as a group of moderate to conservative House Democrats, including Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
Crow is also a megadonor to No Labels, the supposedly nonpartisan centrist group that wants to launch a third-party unity presidential campaign in 2024 with one Republican and one Democrat on the ticket. Democrats fear that these efforts will siphon enough votes to help Donald Trump or another Republican candidate defeat Biden in a close election.
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The New Republic reported that it had obtained a document with figures showing that Crow donated over $130,000 to No Labels between 2019 and 2021.
Crow was considered a “whale”-level donor by the organization—an august status reserved for only the most generous donors. Crow referred other donors to No Labels, ones who earned the “whale,” “dolphin,” and lesser “minnow” status. By 2021, Crow had steered nearly two dozen other donors to No Labels, the information provided to The New Republic shows.
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OpenSecrets has published a lengthy list of Crow’s donations based on federal campaign finance data. These donations have maximum caps. The transparency group added:
“Crow has also contributed to groups that keep their donors secret, ProPublica reported, making it impossible to know how much and to which ‘dark money’ groups he has contributed.”
Business Insider reported on Crow’s donations to Sinema and Manchin:
According to an Insider review of federal campaign finance data, Crow has given a total $5,800 to Democratic-turned-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's campaign account and $5,000 in May 2022 to Getting Stuff Done PAC, a leadership PAC tied to the Arizona senator.
Crow first contributed $2,900 to Sinema's campaign in June 2021 before giving another $5,800 in November 2021 — prompting the campaign to refund half of it after Crow apparently exceeded federal contribution limits.
Crow contributed $2,800 in March 2021 to Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia moderate who's opposed several of President Joe Biden's nominees and has left the door open to running against Biden for president in 2024.
Sinema and Manchin worked to neuter much of Biden’s Build Back Better social spending and climate bill. They also rejected efforts to weaken the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster to create carve-outs to pass voting and abortion rights legislation.
While Manchin and Sinema worked to delay and reduce the Democrats’ budget bill, they were raising campaign money from wealthy Republican donors, according to a Sludge review of campaign finance data from Code for Democracy. For many of these donors, their contributions to Manchin or Sinema this year have been only their first or second donations to any Democrats in recent election cycles.
Sludge listed more than a dozen Republican megadonors, including Crow, who had donated to Manchin and/or Sinema.
Truthout conducted a search of FEC data on individual campaign contributions that found that Crow had made donations to members of the “Unbreakable Nine,” a group of conservative Democratic House members who “threw a major wrench into the negotiations” on the Build Back Better legislation.
Crow gave to eight out of nine members of the Unbreakable Nine, the group that would end up killing the bill. Between spring and fall of 2021, Crow maxed out his donations of $2,900 to Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-California), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Jim Costa (D-California), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) and Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon).
The bill included measures to reduce climate emissions, lower the cost of prescription drugs and grant workers guaranteed paid family and medical leave.
After lawmakers like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona) worked to completely neuter the bill, the Nine, led by Gottheimer, ultimately dealt the killing blow.
Democratic leaders had previously pledged to progressives that they would keep the reconciliation bill tied to conservatives’ infrastructure bill in order to ensure the former’s passage. But Pelosi caved to pressure from the Unbreakable Nine and allowed the infrastructure bill to pass without Build Back Better, causing the latter to die. These moves seemed to come directly as a result of conservative and corporate donations — donations that Crow had a hand in.
reported that Crow has contributed $12,500 to Cuellar since 2006. Cuellar, who opposes abortion rights, defeated progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros by less than 300 votes in the 2022 Democratic primary. The Texas billionaire has given $16,800 to
Gottheimer since 2018,
contributing thousands as recently as October 2022. But the Crows’ contributions have overwhelmingly gone to support Republicans and Republican-affiliated committees, according to OpenSecrets.
And Slate reported:
The National Republican Congressional Committee also reported receiving over $1.4 million from the Crows since 1990, and Crow donated another $500,000 to Liberty Central, a conservative activist group founded by Ginni Thomas—yes, we’re talking about Justice Thomas’ wife. He’s also given generously to Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, and Marsha Blackburn. (That’s the same committee that would be responsible for holding hearings about Thomas and Crow’s dealings).
No Labels is worse than you thought
As faith in SCOTUS plummets, Ginni Thomas gets her own new scandal